Michael Conforto is set to return to the New York Mets before his original May 1 date. The Mets have to figure out how to make room for Conforto in their crowded outfield.
There will be no changes when it comes to Yoenis Cespedes or Jay Bruce in the outfield. The decision to demote either Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares is a difficult one for the organization to make. The Mets could also demote Phillip Evans, if they choose to have five outfielders.
Brandon Nimmo vs. Juan Lagares
Nimmo has shown his prowess for working deep counts and ability to be the Mets leadoff hitter. He can also play all three outfield positions and is a solid bat to have off the bench. Nimmo has shown he is a quality outfielder and has solidified his spot on the Mets roster. The Mets have been high on Nimmo since they drafted him and they likely will not want to remove the hustle and patience he brings to the Mets.
Lagares is a gold glove center fielder but has always struggled with being a consistent hitter. It is unlikely the Mets move Lagares because he is undoubtedly the best defensive outfielder they have. His glove has been a game changer in the years past which keeps him on the Mets roster year after year. If the Mets were to choose between Nimmo and Lagares, they would likely go with Nimmo. Nimmo is younger, a better hitter and can play all three outfield positions.
How the Mets Will Handle Conforto When He Returns
Conforto’s will likely be worked into everyday action slowly and with caution. Manager Mickey Callaway has said he does not want to overwork guys in the regular season and make sure his bench players do not spend too many consecutive games on the bench. The days of 150-plus games being played is most likely over.
Conforto will likely reclaim his spot as the Mets leadoff hitter and center fielder when he returns. In order to give Adrian Gonzalez some rest, Bruce could play first base which would move Conforto to right and Nimmo/Lagares to center. The Mets can do a lot many different things with their lineup and they do not have a player Callaway is afraid to play.
Getting Conforto back healthy makes the Mets lineup even more dangerous. It gives the Mets and outfield that is one of the very best in baseball and can all be All-Stars. Conforto was one the few bright spots of a dark 2017 and will be one of the key pieces the Mets need to make another World Series run in 2018.